Implementation of “Books as the purpose of life” (SOI-HR-358) 

Author: Kristina Jelošek, English and German teacher 

School/Organization: Primary school Josip Antun Ćolnić 

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies…The man who never reads lives only one.” George R.R. Martin. 

In today’s highly digitalized world reading books has become less popular among children. They don’t seem to find reading as attractive and interesting way of spending their free time as watching videos or just surfing the Internet. In an attempt to make reading more alluring to my students, I came across the learning scenario by Mara –Mihaela Frent called “Books as purpose of life”. I found the learning scenario a great start into making my students more involved in reading and books. I expanded the activities from the learning scenario with various activities which made the students’ involvement with the topic of reading even deeper and broader. The students were exposed to literary works in English which were suitable for their age and had to respond to the stories in different creative ways. The learning scenario offers some good metaphors of the importance of reading and through interesting activities makes the students aware of the value of reading and the endless potential of knowledge and skills lying in books. The chosen scenario helped in developing various skills like collaborative skills, critical thinking skills (opening the minds of children to reading),ICT skills by using digital applications, creativity by using their practical skills in making their own bookshelf with tiny books, reading skills by reading stories and expanding their vocabulary and doing tasks that go beyond the story. I believe that my students got a glimpse into the treasure chest of literature and I hope they will never cease exploring it. 

The implementation context  

I implemented the learning scenario “Books as purpose of life” with my 7th grade students (13-14 years old) during their English language lessons. They have been learning English as a foreign language for seven years and their language proficiency level according to CEFR is A1 and some students are at A2 level. The age of the students is higher than in the learning scenario so that I took that into consideration while implementing the scenario and adapted the activities for students with higher proficiency in English. The topic correlates with our national curriculum for the seventh grade in which we cover the topic of reading and books. It also includes the communicative language outcomes of the national curriculum for the 7th grade as well as the intercultural domain of the curriculum. Students also developed their independent language acquisition skills in doing activities which included time management and choosing of methods that can facilitate their own   learning. The number of students in my class is 17 and they didn’t have the previous familiarity with Europeana digital heritage, so through the implementation of this learning scenario they became acquainted with the Europeana platform as well. During the implementation I have briefly presented the possibilities of Europeana platform, its materials and galleries and the way they can be used. We have also commented on the importance of copyright and how to contribute the works to their authors. They were also familiarized with how to find materials which can be freely used. 

Learning path 

The learning scenario was intended for librarians, but I adapted the activities for my English language classroom. I also added final activities to further deepen the involvement with the topic and include the development of different language skills like independent reading, finding key information in the text and writing short texts as responses to the stories the students read. The last activities are meant to be done independently as homework. 

Step 1 

We started the lesson with teacher presenting two examples of glasses from Europeana platform and we discussed the maximum potential every person has that can be achieved through reading and learning. I used the English version of the story “Enemy” by  Davide Cali because I could not find “Hapiness Salesman”  from the learning scenario in English translation. 


 We also talk about Malala and her famous quote” One Child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world”. 

Step 2 

Students learn about the structure of our brain and do some intelligence games with numbers. 

Step 3 

Students watch images of books from Europeana, say which book they would like to read and why. Then they talk in groups about their favorite books. 

Step 3 

Teacher presents a tutorial for making mini origami bookshelf and tiny books and in small groups students make their own bookshelves by using paper, boxes and crayons. 

Step 4 

Teacher shares a link from the British council webpage with ten short stories. 

Reading list stories 

Students have to choose one story, read it and choose two tasks to do after reading the story. They can choose to write an imaginary interview with a character from the story, make a cartoon about the story either by using digital application or on paper, write a different ending for the story, make a timeline or add a new character. When they hand in their work students choose the best ones. 

Learning outcomes 

The activities from this learning scenario brought students closer to books and reading. They became aware of the importance of reading in their everyday life and they became aware of the significance of reading in regard of their future.The students are guided through diferent activities which make them critically think and evaluate the importance of reading in the lives of some famous people like Malala Yousafzai.They are encouraged to think about their own education and the benefits of reading through examples like the glass metaphore and life of Malala. 

Students develop their language skills through listening and reading of short stories in English language. They expand their vocabulary through understanding of new words from the context, they learn how to find key information in  the text, how to summerize the text and organize and write a short text of their own. By choosing the final task, they develop their creativity in drawing cartoons, writing a different ending of the story, writing an imaginary interview with a character from the story. They also develop their practical skills by making a small origami bookshelf and tiny origami books. 

Students also practice their ICT skills in making cartoons by using digital applications like Pixton, Sutori and Storyboard or making digital storeylines. They also discover Europeana platform and study some examples of books and book covers. 

I would recommend the activities from this scenario to be a starting point for a wider range of activities that would get the students more involved with actual reading of literature and the interpretation of the stories. 

Students’ feedback after the implementation of the learning scenario was almost unanimously positive. They liked the short stories on their reading list and they liked to have a choice which story to read and to choose the activity they would like to do after the reading.They said that they felt more independent and could express themselves through activities in which they felt more confident. Here are links to some of their work they did after reading and some pictures of their work. 

Hole in the wall cartoon 

Time travel plumber cartoon 

Teaching outcomes and recommendations 

The use of Europeana resources has brought authentic, original and interesting materials into my English language classroom. Students have learned how to find good quality authentic materials for their future projects and got familiarized with  the many possibilities the platform offers. They have also learned about copyright, which is an issue that students are not sufficiently informed about ,which materials can be freely used for their school projects and what are the restrictions they have to respect.I also showed the students how to use the  filters on the website so that their search is more efficient and successful. 

However,I would recommend turning Europeana links into QR codes when doing planned activities so that students get faster access to the needed resources because our lessons have a certain time frame that has to be respected. It makes the activities faster and more efficient. 

When I use Europeana resources in my educational activities students seem more motivated because every resource has its own background story, which makes it more interesting to students and they are in a position of active, independent researchers.It makes them more self confident and focused on the tasks. The Europeana resources enabled a creative learning experience for my students and stimulated them to think about the significance of reading in their everyday life.  

Did you find this story of implementation interesting? Why don’t you read about the related learning scenario? “Books as the purpose of life (EN-CUR-610)” created by Mara Mihaela Trent 

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CC0 1.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Statens Museum for Kunst.

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